Boat Sank Due To Sudden Stormy Weather In The South China Sea
(Warning: Readers may find some pictures below disturbing)
What would you do if you were stranded in the middle of the South China Sea?
A Singaporean man, Mr John Low, told Straits Times on Monday (10 Jun) that he found himself in such a situation as he was travelling by boat to Tioman Island for a diving trip. A sudden change in weather, however, sank the boat he was on, leaving him with nothing but a life buoy.
South China Sea
Left alone at sea without fuel
Mr Low had been on his way to a popular diving spot near Tioman Island on a speedboat, piloted by a boatman, when it ran out of fuel.
Tioman Island coast
The boatmen anchored the boat off the coast of a large village nearby. Mr Low remained on the boat while the boatmen went to get fuel.
However, the weather suddenly turned nasty and waves potentially as high as 3m crashed into the boat. By the time the boatmen returned – after receiving Mr Low’s call – the boat had already sunk and Mr Low was nowhere in sight.
Blazing in the day, freezing in the night
Just before the boat sank, Mr Low managed to grab a life buoy and his bag — which contained his passport and IC.
In the first few days, because he had no water, Mr Low drank seawater. The high salt content in the water caused him to constantly vomit.
To make things worse, the sun was unrelenting — charring his skin in the day. He even had to remove his clothes because the burns were so bad that it was painful when rubbed against the linen.
During the night, things were no better. It was cold and Mr Low had to swim around to keep his body temperature up.
Started to hallucinate
Dehydration and starvation eventually led to hallucinations. He apparently heard voices telling him to let go of the life buoy, and even felt someone taking him to buy a can of Coke at a 7-Eleven store.
To keep himself sane, he started talking to his buoy which he named “Boy” and his Rolex watch which he named “Brother”.
He also tried comforting himself by admiring the sunset and determining to see the sunrise on the next day.
Saved by a passing ship
By the fourth day, just as he was on the brink of submission, he saw a ship sailing towards him.
The crew members had spotted him from afar. Knowing that he was about to be rescued, Mr Low, allowed himself to drift into unconsciousness.
He was quickly airlifted by an RSAF helicopter to Singapore General Hospital (SGH), where he spent 7 days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Mr Low recuperating in SGH
Badly burnt and malnourished
According to the seamen who rescued him, Mr Low’s skin had been burnt so badly that it was stuck to the life buoy.
At SGH, he had to undergo procedures to flush out the excess sodium – from the seawater – from his body. His family members also to apply moisturiser on his face every 2 hours because of his sunburns.
Fortunately, he has since recovered well.
Grateful to the RSAF and Filipino crew
Mr Low has expressed his gratitude to the RSAF crew as well as the Filipino seamen who played a part in his rescue, calling them his “angel saviours”.
He was also very proud of his wife and three sons, saying that they were focused on trying to locate him rather than just panicking.
Mr Low overcame the odds and survived. Hopefully, his future diving trips will be incident-free.